As technology starts overtaking today's business setting, the engagement of the human factor at the workplace becomes more and more important to establish a solid brand, as well as to establish the company's growth. But, as the last remnants of a world in which the customer was always right, most bosses are finding it difficult to maintain a balance between placing their employees first while driving the growth of their business.
Employee engagement can be just as important to a business as a solid product. One of the main reasons is that employees that are happy and satisfied with their work environment —who are trusted to stand up to any number of challenges presented by a competitive world —will likely always give their best. In most cases, employees will go beyond what they believed themselves capable of, to solve problems, keep customers coming back, and essentially help build a business that is stable, prone to growth and which can represent serious competition for those who don't place their workers first.
So, how can a small business owner increase and maintain employee engagement?
The answer is simple but requires the implementation of several new policies, which will make life much more comfortable for those involved.
Show your employees you care
Most, if not all, people seek to feel approval, acceptance, and attention. They need to feel they are valued members of a team, not simply a pair of hands that get to do the work their boss doesn't want to do. This means you must put your employees first, and to be successful at doing so, you have to start taking into account what they need to be able to go the extra mile.
An excellent way to start showing your employees that you care about them is to have them fill out a survey. When applied correctly, this option will give you more insight into what might be making your employees uncomfortable than anything else, especially as a first approach, when open communication has not been cemented yet.
Needless to say, creativity is key in this aspect. Find creative activities to maintain a level of caring that will motivate employees to show up every day while unifying them as a team and aligning their vision with your company's core values. Games can be a great way to get started and can be fundamental to helping them let off some steam after a particularly trying project. They are also a good way to get management involved while promoting an enhanced sense of unity between hierarchical levels.
Put your people before your profits
Those employees who are assigned to deal with customers will, more often than not, have to deal with customers that may try to overstep their boundaries, in many cases becoming abusive and downright nasty. Before you step back in time to when the customer was always right, allow your employees to take control of the situation by enforcing your company's values and reflecting them on your customers.
Think about it this way, no matter how deep an abusive customer's pockets may be, he or she should never come before your staff, especially not if your employee is right and the customer is wrong. Showing existing and potential customers that you care about your team and will never go against your values will eventually bring more business than that which you might have potentially lost by placing your employee first. Taking it one step further, you can establish a recognition program that praises employees who abide by and enforce, your core values. This will motivate others to do the same, driving them to become better representatives of your company's mission.
Allow your employees to have more control by offering them choices
All people like to feel like they are in control of their environment, and this feeling extends to the workplace, which means that by regimenting all of your employees' activities, you are only feeding into an environment of tension, stress, and eventually unhappy people who are only doing their job because of a paycheck, instead of enjoying what they do.
To prevent this form of stagnation, it is a good idea to present your employees with choices that are meaningful to them, especially those that might increase productivity. These days technology offers many options that can be adapted to the workplace while allowing employees to have more flexible hours, the ability to telecommute, and even use their own devices to work on specific projects. This will not only increase the sense of well-being but also make them more productive and more customer oriented, all while saving time and money you can dedicate to the growth of your business.
An environment that places employees first will always be one in which success can develop more securely than one in which this important piece of the equation is not present. So, get creative and start drawing smiles on your team's faces, and then sit back to reap the fruits of your labor in ways you never believed possible.